RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Housing up to 1,600 inmates at times, almost double its capacity, the conditions at the Richmond city jail have been described as 'complete chaos' with big safety issues.
"It's atrocious, the over crowdedness keeps you not able to separate the hard-core criminals, from those who are just in there for a misdemeanor offenses and such," said Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody.
Sheriff Woody is one of 15 delegates in the Richmond Community Criminal Justice Board who wants change.
The plan is to place the non-violent, low-risk offenders in more rehabilitation programs such as mental health services, substance abuse treatments, and specialty housing programs so they don't go back to jail.
"One thing that excites me most is to really get to the root cause of homelessness which is people cycling the streets to the jail," said RCCJB Chair, Kelly King Home.
We were there last year when Mayor Dwight Jones and Commonwealth Attorney, Mike Herring, toured a facility in Baltimore. They, among others, traveled to the top three mid-Atlantic facilities to get ideas on how to keep the non-violent offenders out of jail.
Herring says this idea is being successfully practiced in other regions.
"We need to now go do some more best practice review and figure out a way to bring it here cost effectively, but come hell or high water, we're going to do it," said Herring.